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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

I26                            THE GAY GENIUS

compared it to the beauty of the days of Mencius; a "Miss West", who
was just as beautiful when she was in a morning negligee, at home and
familiar, as she was in full make-up. Both clear and rainy days added
their charm to the immortal lake:

"The light of water sparkles on a sunny day;
And misty mountains lend excitement to the rain.
I like to compare the West Lake to 'Miss West',
Pretty in a gay dress, and pretty in simple again."

That was of course merely a figure of speech. "Miss West" looked at
any time prettier with painted eyebrows than without them. It was Su
Tungpo who embellished the fringes of the lake and gave them little
touches with consummate art to make them natural. Today the Su
Embankment stretching across the lake, the reflections in water of the
enchanted isle, called "Three Ponds Reflecting the Same Moon", ano|
the willow-fringed shore line bear testimony to his skill as a landscape
architect. The West Lake of Hangchow and the "Little West Lake" of
Yangchow are two places where the' profound landscaping genius of
China found perfect expression, where human art and skill improve
but do not spoil The artist first seized the natural design of the locality
and saw it as a whole in its natural structure and composition. He
merely added a few touches to tighten or smooth out, or to emphasise
a contour here and there, and nothing more.

Su Tungpo arrived at Hangchow with his wife and children on
November 28,1071. The residences of the magistrates were situated on
top of the Phoenix Hill, enjoying a full view of the Chientang Rivei*
with its great fleet of seafaring ships* on the south, and the West Lake,
surrounded by cloud-capped mountains, dotted with temples and rich
men's villas, on the north, while the waves of the bay lashed its shores
on its east. There were two deputy magistrates at Hangchow besides
the chief magistrate, for Hangchow was a big metropolitan city. The Su
family occupied a building on the north side of the compound, which
was the lake side. Immediately below the Phoenix Hill, and lying on a
strip running north and south between West Lake and the Chientang
Bay, was the city itself with its high walls, its bridges and canals. Mrs.
Su was transported when she opened the window in the morning a|
saw beneath her the beautiful placid surface of the lake reflectil
moving clouds and mountain-tops and villas. Before the day was we
advanced, pleasure-seekers' boats filled the lake, and at night from theiT
house on the hill she could hear the sound of flutes and songs. Certain
sections of the city were more brilliantly illuminated than others, for
there'were fairs open every night until two or three in the morning.
Por the wife, particularly, there was an exciting variety of fancy foods,
silks, embroideries, and fans, and for the children a great variety of